South Korea will consider release of oil reserves if Saudi situation worsens: energy ministry

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Monday that it would consider releasing oil from its strategic oil reserves if circumstances around crude oil imports worsen in the wake of Saturday’s attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

The comments came as oil prices surged to four-month highs on Monday after weekend attacks on crude facilities in Saudi Arabia sparked supply fears.

South Korea’s energy ministry said in a statement it anticipated no short-term impact on securing crude oil supplies from Saudi Arabia. But if the situation drags on it might disrupt crude oil supplies, the ministry added.

U.S. President Donald Trump also authorized the use of the U.S. emergency oil stockpile to ensure stable supplies after the attack, which shut 5% of world production.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer, currently has about 96 million barrels of crude oil and refined products as strategic stockpiles. Of the total 96 million barrels, the country holds 82 million barrels of crude oil and the rest is refined products such as gasoline, diesel and naphtha.

“The government will do its best to stabilize the demand and supply situation and prices, such as considering release of oil reserves if the situation worsens,” the ministry said.

The stockpiles cover about South Korea’s 90 days of oil requirement.

Reporting by Jane Chung; writing by Ju-min Park; Editing by Darren Schuettler & Shri Navaratnam